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Pentagon has 1,600 troops on alert outside DC to respond to protests

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  • The Pentagon revealed Monday evening that it has 1,600 US Army soldiers on alert at bases near Washington, DC, to respond to protests and unrest if necessary.
  • Troops include an infantry battalion designated Task Force 504 and assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s Immediate Response Force at Fort Bragg, as well as command and control, military police, and engineering units.
  • The troops arrived in the last 24 hours, the Pentagon said.
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The Pentagon has 1,600 US Army soldiers on heightened alert status at bases just outside Washington, DC, where they are ready to respond to unrest in the nation’s capital if necessary.

“The Department of Defense moved multiple active duty Army units into the National Capitol Region as a prudent planning measure in response to ongoing support to civil authorities operations,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in an emailed statement Tuesday night.

The Army soldiers moved into areas around DC include an infantry battalion designated Task Force 504 and assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s Immediate Response Force at Fort Bragg.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that there are roughly 700 of these soldiers near the capital, adding that troops are armed with riot gear and bayonets.

The 82nd’s Immediate Response Force is a crisis response force that was last called up in January for a short-notice deployment to the Middle East during a period of heightened tensions with Iran.

The Pentagon also moved the 16th Military Police Brigade headquarters from Fort Bragg and the 91st Military Police Battalion from Fort Drum to DC, Hoffman said, explaining that the brigade provides command and control for the battalion, which provides military police and engineering capabilities.

All of the 1,600 troops arrived in the DC area within the last 24 hours, the spokesman said, adding that while they are near DC, they are not currently “participating in defense support to civil authority operations.”

The soldiers on alert near DC would likely only be moved into the city if the 2,000 National Guard troops in the city proved to be insufficient. Senior Pentagon officials told reporters Tuesday that the department would prefer to rely on National Guard troops.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were more than 20,000 National Guard troops responding in 28 states and DC to unrest following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes last week.

President Donald Trump has called for a forceful response, telling governors on a phone call Monday that they need to “dominate.”

“If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time,” he said. “They’re going to run over you. You are going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.”

Monday evening, Trump said that he was “dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers” to respond, stressing that he “will end it now.”

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